14 great science-fiction indie films from 'Under the Skin' to 'The Terminator'

14 great science-fiction indie films from 'Under the Skin' to 'The Terminator'

It's important that films like these are made outside the system

It's an interesting summer for science-fiction, and we're going to see a lot of younger filmmakers wearing their inspirations on their sleeves this year, even as we see guys who are jumping to the next level, taking on massive scale projects for the first time. One of the guys who is working somewhere between the two extremes is Will Eubank, director of "The Signal."

Eubank's previous film was "LOVE," a hand-made science-fiction that he shot on his own property. It's a beautiful, odd, unique movie that would never have happened at a studio. Likewise, "The Signal" is a film that unfolds in its own particular way. It's not like any other science-fiction movie you're going to see this year, and that's to its credit.

While science-fiction is normally the domain of the giant budget, especially since "Star Wars" landed on the mainstream in 1977, some of the most provocative and interesting science-fiction films of all time are independent films that had to happen outside the system. We picked ten that we particularly admire because of the way they work first as great stories, but also because of what they say about using the genre the right way.

Science fiction can tackle any idea, any concern, any type of character study. It is an incredibly rich genre, but it's often used to just tell simple good-bad power fantasies. We wanted to spotlight some films that have dared to do something truly different and that made permanent impact on the genre.

The thing is, we started with a list of at least 40 titles that could have easily been part of this list. It's actually pretty encouraging to look at that many films that have dared to redefine what science-fiction is. I believe we will always have people who dare to dream big on a very small budget, and that we are better for it.

Check out 14 must-see independent Sci-Fi films in the embedded gallery below.  Did we miss a favorite? Let us know in the comments section.

Review: Shailene Woodley lights up the lovely and unsentimental 'Fault In Our Stars'
Credit: 20th Century Fox/Fox 2000

Review: Shailene Woodley lights up the lovely and unsentimental 'Fault In Our Stars'

HitFix
B+
Readers
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As YA adaptations go, this one's got a more mature idea about love than most

Love is not convenient.

For all the words that poets have spilled trying to describe love over the years, it seems to me that it is easier to describe by explaining what love is not. Love is rarely on your schedule. It would be amazing if we could simply snap our fingers and have love whenever we want it, but if that were the case, it wouldn't be love. The pain that is a huge part of the experience is one of the reasons it matters. Love is not easy. Love is not casual. Love is not interested in what we want.

"The Fault In Our Stars" is a very simple story about two kids, each struggling with cancer, who find each other at the least convenient time and fall in love. I don't think any part of that sentence is a spoiler. It's just a description. The details are what matters, and the script by Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber, adapted from the well-loved novel by John Green, is very smart and fairly unsentimental, which works to the material's advantage. When you're talking about a movie that deals with two young people with cancer falling in love, the potential for that to be hugely sappy is overwhelming. I haven't read the book, but the film nimbly avoids most of the things I expected from it, and does so in a lovely, thoughtful way.

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'Ask Drew' tackles 'Star Wars' rumors and guilty pleasures
Credit: Lucasfilm Ltd.

'Ask Drew' tackles 'Star Wars' rumors and guilty pleasures

Plus a fiendishly clever 'Movie God' scenario

This week's "Ask Drew" includes a moment I suspected would happen at some point, and now that it has, I'll address it here.

I don't like the answer I gave to one of the questions. I don't think it's a bad answer, but it's not the right answer. On the way home, I thought of a far more appropriate response, and so I feel like I owe it to the person who sent the question in the first place. Basically, he asked me if there are any truly bad films that I love. I sort of dismissed the idea of "guilty pleasures" and then talked a little bit about "Buckaroo Banzai," but I think that's sort of me dodging the question.

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<p>Schmidt and Jenko, straight up spring breakin&#39;</p>

Schmidt and Jenko, straight up spring breakin'

Credit: Sony Pictures

Review: '22 Jump Street' roasts the entire idea of sequels while delivering a great one

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B+
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It's not as fresh as the first film, but that's also sort of the point.

The only truly negative thing I have to say about "22 Jump Street" is that Chris Miller and Phil Lord are setting themselves up to eventually become a media punching bag. That's the inevitable ending when someone's on a winning streak, and right now, Miller and Lord are looking like the guys you call when you have a terrible idea but want to make a great film anyway. That's an amazing skill set, and I find myself deeply impressed by each new thing they release.

What made "21 Jump Street" so much fun was that it was completely self-aware. The movie openly made fun of what a terrible idea it is to turn old TV shows into new movies, and it also managed to run some very smart and fun riffs on high school movies and buddy cop films, constantly subverting expectations in a way that I think added up to something that felt very fresh.

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6 movie stars on the summer movie hot seat in June

6 movie stars on the summer movie hot seat in June

We've got titans and rising stars alike on the list this month

We did this for the first time last month, and I think it's a perspective worth offering at the start of each month, particularly during a season when the stakes are so financially important to the industry as a whole.

For the purposes of this conversation, it's important to start from a common definition of movie star. There's several different metrics you can use. There are people who are positively incandescent when they show up in front of a camera, and you can't get enough of just looking at them. They were born to be photographed. Light bends differently off of them. In a case like that, you could say someone has "movie-star charisma." That is a necessary quality for a movie star, but that's not all that is involved.

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'X-Men' producers Donner and Kinberg on the past, present, and future of the series
Credit: 20th Century Fox

'X-Men' producers Donner and Kinberg on the past, present, and future of the series

How far ahead are they planning 'X-Men' movies now?

One of the most impressive things about "X-Men: Days Of Future Past" is how it feels like they've reset the entire series to a point, and they can now tell any story they want again with any of the characters they've used so far without worrying about continuity issues.

It is amazing to realize that they've been working with the same cast and many of the same people behind the camera for fourteen years now. Not many series can pull off that sort of longevity without having to shake everything up completely, and yet it looks like Hugh Jackman is signing another deal to keep playing Wolverine and now the series has a second wind with some of the hottest new stars in Hollywood including Michael Fassbender and Jennifer Lawrence.

I reached out to Lauren Shuler-Donner and Simon Kinberg and asked them if we could sit down and discuss the series, the choices they made about this film, and what they see as the future of the franchise, and so the day after Memorial Day, we all hopped on the phone and dug right in.

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Summer Movies Flashback 1984: Indiana Jones, Gremlins and Ghostbusters

Summer Movies Flashback 1984: Indiana Jones, Gremlins and Ghostbusters

Our continuing look back at some of the biggest summers we've lived through takes us back 30 full years

In honor of the 2014 summer movie season, Team HitFix will be delivering a mini-series of articles flashing back to key summers from years past. There will be one each month, diving into the marquee events of the era, their impact on the writer and their implications on today's multiplex culture. We continue today with a look back at the summer of 1984.

I turned 14 on May 26, 1984, just as the summer movie season was getting started.

These days, the summer movie season seems to begin in mid-March, and I think it's because studios want real estate that they can own. And it feels like the appetite for event films is something the audience has year-round now, so if you're able to make something that excites the audience, why not find a place for it where it's not going head to head with all the other giant event films of the year?

For the purposes of this piece, we're going to consider everything from the first weekend of May to the middle of August, where it felt like they wrapped up the summer releases. 1984 was a fairly strong year, with some big highs, some ridiculous lows, and a ton of movies that stood out in one way or another. I count at least 14 movies that I genuinely love that came out during that summer, and I am surprised how vivid my memories still are of the time I spent in the theaters during those 15 weekends.

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A list of possible replacement directors for 'Ant-Man' could be a turning point for Marvel
Credit: Marvel Studios

A list of possible replacement directors for 'Ant-Man' could be a turning point for Marvel

Is this the beginning of a new perception problem for the mega-studio?

If The Hollywood Reporter's list of prospective "Ant-Man" directors is accurate, it is my considered opinion that "Ant-Man" represents a genuine problem for the studio.

I like Adam McKay quite a bit. I enjoy the way that big weird thing he calls a brain works, and I like the way he is unafraid to smuggle really serious ideas into the silliest possible movies. While he definitely snuck in a bit of buddy cop action while making "The Other Guys" and his new film "Get Hard" also plays with that, I'm not sure action is what I'd think of when I think of him. Ruben Fleischer's "Zombieland" was huge fun, but he botched "Gangster Squad" pretty much across the board. I am even more confused by the idea of Rawson Thurber being on the list. I know "We're The Millers" made a startling amount of money considering it's terrible, but does that really mean he's the guy you offer a Marvel movie to?

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<p>Um, Josh, you&#39;ve got something on your face. No, the other side.</p>

Um, Josh, you've got something on your face. No, the other side.

Credit: Warner Bros

Josh Brolin has been set to play Thanos as Marvel starts the push towards 'Avengers 3'

Now who's going to play Death?

Thanos is coming.

We've known that since the end of "The Avengers," and it's a very exciting prospect. When he showed up for that one shot at the end of that film, it was meant to be a giant tease, and Marvel didn't bother casting the role in the same way they would if he were an actual character in a film. The guy in the suit, Damien Potier, was never expected to be the long-term choice for the role. They put that off for the future, knowing there would come a time where they would finally put Thanos front and center.

That time is getting closer now. This summer's "Guardians Of The Galaxy" takes place in the end of the universe where Thanos is a threat, and his children are a major part of the movie. According to today's report, Josh Brolin has now signed on to voice Thanos, which makes me wonder if they're going to be doing him as a fully CG creation, or if they shot someone else in a suit and make-up while trying to find the right actor to give him his voice. If it is a suit and a make-up, then at some point, one presumes Brolin is going to have to wear it. I remember interviewing him on the set of "Jonah Hex," and he was not especially in love with the process that gave him a disturbingly real hole in his cheek each day, but Thanos would be a whole different kind of make-up for him to wear.

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Review: Tom Cruise is at his best in the wild and witty science-fiction 'Edge Of Tomorrow'
Credit: Warner Bros.

Review: Tom Cruise is at his best in the wild and witty science-fiction 'Edge Of Tomorrow'

HitFix
A-
Readers
A
Love him or hate him, you'll want to see Cruise in this one

There are easy comparisons you can make between "Edge Of Tomorrow" and a whole slew of inspirations, from "Starship Troopers" and "Groundhog Day" to Wile E. Coyote and "The Matrix." The reason the film works is because it throws everything into the blender and comes up with something new, something that has a great lively sense of wit and humor to it, and it takes the time to fully explore its wild premise fully.

"Edge Of Tomorrow" is an original science-fiction film (or as original as based-on-a-novel-and-a-manga can be considered) that delivers an experience that feels like it is well-realized, cleverly constructed, and not just a kick-off to a larger franchise, which means it's a harder sell to an audience, even with Tom Cruise starring in it. Hiroshi Sakurazaka's original "All You Need Is Kill" is different from the film in a number of significant ways, but the film does a great job of taking the central conceit and spinning it into something that manages to play as both summer spectacle and as a canny commentary on video game tropes.

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